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Daily Reads: Trump Fills Government with Lobbyists; It’s Been a Hot Winter, Blame Climate Change

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Daily Reads: Trump Fills Government with Lobbyists

President Donald Trump enters the Oval Office on March 5, 2017. (Photo by Erik S. Lesser-Pool/Getty Images)

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Who’s who –> Although there are still tons of government jobs to fill, Donald Trump has been at work installing loyalists within federal agencies to serve as his eyes and ears. Hundreds are now on the job, and someone leaked a partial list to ProPublica. “The list is striking for how many former lobbyists it contains,” Justin Elliott, Derek Kravitz and Al Shaw note. “We found at least 36, spanning industries from health insurance and pharmaceuticals to construction, energy and finance. Many of them lobbied in the same areas that are regulated by the agencies they have now joined.”

Blame climate change –> We’ve got another two weeks until spring officially starts, but the weather doesn’t seem to know that. It once was risky to tie unseasonable temperatures to climate change; climate change research had not progressed enough that scientists definitively could make a clear link. But Brian Kahn writes for Climate Central that the freakishly warm February in the US was “at least three times more likely than it was around 120 years ago, according to the analysis by scientists working on the World Weather Attribution team. While it was a month to remember, by mid-century that type of heat could occur every three years unless carbon pollution is curtailed.”

Those who should know oppose GOP health care –> It only took two days: hospitals (and the American Medical Association) already have come out against the Republican Obamacare replacement. In a letter to Congress, Richard Pollack, head of the American Hospital Association, writes, “We look forward to continuing to work with the Congress and the Administration on ACA reform, but we cannot support The American Health Care Act in its current form.” The group is particularly concerned about the part of the bill that scales back the Medicaid expansion, effectively blocking access to health care for millions of the poor.

The AARP also quickly cut an ad coming out against the bill for effectively hiking prices for older Americans — which the talking squirrel in their ad calls an “age tax.” Patrick Caldwall writes for Mother Jones that Obamacare “said that health insurers could not charge their older clients more than three times as much as the youngest consumers. The GOP’s plan would bump that ratio up to 5-to-1.”

Better late than never? –> It turns out that from August until November 2016,  former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was paid half a million dollars to lobby the US government on behalf of the Turkish government. That could explain why he published an op-ed on Election Day calling for the US government to kick Fethullah Gülen, the cleric who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers an enemy, out of the country (Gülen lives in Pennsylvania). Flynn just filed forms with the Justice Department, declaring himself a foreign agent.

What a coincidence –> Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are renting a house in a fancy DC neighborhood from a Chilean billionaire. Interesting. More interesting: The Chilean billionaire owns a mine in Minnesota, and is suing the US government over Obama-era policies that he thinks will cut into his mine’s profits. He’s currently lobbying Donald Trump to reverse those policies.

Lucky break? –> “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may have still owned millions of dollars of ExxonMobil stock at the time President Trump made praising the oil giant a matter of White House policy,” Claudia Koerner reports for Buzzfeed. Before becoming secretary of state, Tillerson owned 600,000 shares of Exxon stock. He pledged to divest them by May 2.

It’s good to be king –> According to the AP, “China has granted preliminary approval for 38 new Trump trademarks, paving the way for President Donald Trump and his family to develop a host of branded businesses from hotels to insurance to bodyguard and escort services.”

Pay to stay –> In jail with money to burn? Some California jails will let you upgrade to a nicer cell, or stay in a nicer jail, The Marshall Project reports.

Artists and writers interrogated –> In addition to stories of deportation under the Trump administration, PEN America notes that “more and more reports are emerging of travelers — including US citizens returning home — being subjected to aggressive interrogations at the border that leave them humiliated, angry, and bewildered. Several prominent writers have spoken out in recent weeks about such experiences, which have altered their views of the United States and what it stands for.”

Working-class roots –> In more than 50 countries, women protested and went on strike in observance of International Women’s Day. At In These Times, Kate Aronoff digs into the history of working-class women fomenting change in America. And at Jacobin, Cintia Frencia & Daniel Gaido write about the holiday’s socialist origins:

“Simply put, International Women’s Day was, from the very beginning, a Working Women’s Day. While its immediate objective was to win universal female suffrage, its aspirations were much grander: the overthrow of capitalism and the triumph of socialism, abolishing both the wage slavery of workers and the domestic slavery of women through the socialization of education and care work.”

Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.



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